Modern Contraception


My organization, Roots of Health provides free contraceptives to indigent women throughout Palawan. From chatting with friends in various sectors, I’ve realized that there are still many knowledge gaps and misconceptions about different forms of modern contraception. In order to help enlighten people who may not know how contraceptives work, and or to help women choose the best form of contraception for them, I’ve compiled a summary of the methods of contraception available in Palawan. In doing the research for this article I even learned a few new things myself.

 

Please note that of all the forms of contraception mentioned below, only condoms protect against sexually transmitted infections.

 

Intra-uterine Device (IUD)

What is it?

  • An IUD is a small, T-shaped plastic device that is wrapped in copper. A medical professional inserts the IUD into the uterus. A small plastic string tied to the end of the IUD hangs down through the cervix into the vagina. A woman can check that the IUD is in place by feeling for this string.

 

How it works to prevent pregnancy:

  • The Copper IUD prevents fertilization of the egg by damaging or killing sperm. The IUD also affects the uterine lining so no implantation occurs. Copper is toxic to sperm. It makes the uterus and fallopian tubes produce fluid that kills sperm.

 

How long is it effective?

  • Up to 10 years.

 

Advantages:

  • The IUD is long-lasting yet women can still get pregnant reasonably quickly once it is removed.
  • It is cost effective and very effective at preventing pregnancy.

 

Possible risks or side effects:

  • Perforation: In 1 out of 1,000 women, the IUD will get stuck in or puncture (perforate) the uterus. Although perforation is rare, it almost always occurs during insertion. The IUD should be removed if the uterus has been perforated.
  • About 2 to 10 out of 100 IUDs are pushed out (expelled) from the uterus into the vagina during the first year. This usually happens in the first few months of use. Expulsion is more likely when the IUD is inserted right after childbirth or in a woman who has not carried a pregnancy. When an IUD has been expelled, you are no longer protected against pregnancy.

 

Best for:

  • Women who have already had children; are using medicine not compatible to hormonal contraceptives; have a history of ectopic pregnancy; have a history of irregular menstrual bleeding and pain; have diabetes; or are breast-feeding.

 

Not recommended for:

  • Women who have never had children.

 

Hormonal Implant (Implanon)

What is it?

  • The birth control implant is a thin, flexible plastic implant about the size of a matchstick. It is inserted under the skin of the inner upper arm.

 

How it works to prevent pregnancy:

  • The birth control implant releases a hormone (progestin). The progestin tricks the body into thinking it is pregnant. The body keeps the eggs from leaving the ovaries. Pregnancy cannot happen if there is no egg to join with the sperm. Progestin also makes a woman’s cervical mucus thicker. This keeps sperm from getting to the eggs.

 

How long is it effective?

  • Up to three (3) years

 

Advantages:

  • The ability to become pregnant returns quickly when you stop using the implant.
  • It can be used while breastfeeding.
  • Women who cannot take estrogen can use it.
  • It gives continuous long-lasting birth control without sterilization.
  • There is no medicine to take every day.

 

Possible risks or side effects:

  • Irregular bleeding especially in the first 6–12 months of use.

 

Best for:

  • Women who want at least a 3-year break in child-bearing.

 

Not recommended for:

  • Women who have breast cancer.

 

Oral Contraceptive Pills (Lady, Daphne, Trust)

What is it?

  • Oral contraceptive pills or birth control pills are pills made with combinations of the female sex hormones estrogen and progestin, or from progestin only. These pills are ingested everyday to prevent pregnancy.

 

How it works to prevent pregnancy

  • Combinations of estrogen and progestin, or progestin-only pills, work by preventing ovulation (the release of eggs from the ovaries). They also change the lining of the uterus to prevent pregnancy from developing and change the mucus at the cervix (opening of the uterus) to prevent sperm from entering.

 

How long is it effective?

  • One (1) month

 

Advantages:

  • Easy to stop taking.
  • Can regulate periods.
  • Can help prevent menstrual cramps.
  • Can help prevent acne.

 

Possible risks or side effects:

  • Can induce weight gain
  • Can cause nausea
  • Can cause headaches
  • Easy to miss taking a pill

 

Best for:

  • Younger women and girls; women who may want to become pregnant soon.

 

Not recommended for:

  • Women over the age of 35; smokers.

 

Injectable Contraceptive (DMPA)

What is it?

  • DMPA (Depo-Provera) is another hormonal form of birth control. It contains a hormone similar to the progesterone produced by the ovaries. DMPA is given by injection in the upper arm muscle. Injections must be received on a regular basis every 12 weeks.

 

How it works to prevent pregnancy:

  • DMPA works because it prevents the release of an egg from the ovary; thus there is nothing to be fertilized by the sperm and a pregnancy cannot occur. Cervical mucus is thickened and it also thins the lining of the uterus, which would make the uterus less hospitable to a fertilized egg should ovulation occur.

 

How long is it effective?

  • Up to three (3) months

 

Advantages:

  • Injected every three months so there is no need to remember taking a contraceptive pill daily.

 

Possible risks or side effects:

  • Can induce weight gain.
  • Can cause nausea.
  • Can cause headaches.

 

Best for:

  • Women who want short-term pregnancy protection.

 

Not recommended for:

  • Women who have hypertension or have experienced a stroke.

 

Condoms (Lifestyles, Trust)

What is it?

  • Male condoms are made from very thin latex (rubber), polyisoprene or polyurethane, and are designed to stop a man’s semen from coming into contact with his sexual partner.

 

How it works to prevent pregnancy:

  • Condoms provide a barrier so when used correctly, will prevent a man’s semen from any contact with his sexual partner. Without semen, there is no sperm to fertilize an egg, so no pregnancy can occur.

 

How long is it effective?

  • Condoms can only be used once.

 

Advantages:

  • When used consistently and correctly, condoms are the only method of contraception that protect against sexually transmitted infections and pregnancy.
  • No medical side effects.

 

Possible risks or side effects:

  • It is very rare but some people may have an allergic reaction to latex.

 

Best for:

  • People who do not want to use hormonal methods; people with multiple sexual partners.

 

Not recommended for:

  • People with a latex allergy.
  • Women or girls who do not want to get pregnant but cannot always negotiate condom use with her partner(s).

 

I hope that you found that helpful. Check with a medical professional before choosing the contraceptive me

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